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Albuquerque: the city different, the city of harm

Harm hovers over Albuquerque
Harm hovers over Albuquerque
Marbe Street Studio

Once I thought I could contribute to the common good in my new state New Mexico by examining “wellness” – its meaning, its many dimensions, how to achieve it, etc. I chose to do this after healing from a (non-combat) traumatic brain injury. Like most people who have sat across the chess board from the Grim Reaper, I readjusted my priorities, was more grateful for the gift of life, and devoted more time to learning how to be and to do well.

Ever since my wife and I arrived in New Mexico in 2009, it became apparent to us that there was a shortage of wellness here, that harm-doing seemed to be happening more here than it had been in our former places of residence that included Chicago, Boulder, Colorado Springs, Saudi Arabia, and Iran. I was immediately motivated to try to understand how localized or cultural harm is, to write about it, and to battle it.

Examples of nearly daily harm-doing in the Land of Enchantment involve harm against fellow citizens (like the recent Middle School shooting in Roswell, many recent child abuse cases, rising numbers of DUIs), and the many officer-involved shootings across the state); against visitors (one of whom posted on a travel site, "Last wave we had was from a gang member with a gun as we passed him on I.25 in New Mexico due to thinking we had disrespected him. Good one. Have not been back since."); against animals (slaughtering horses for meat products, coyote killing contests; hate crimes) and harm against oneself (with heroin, meth, etc.).

Under the guise of “wellness,” I had already addressed a number of these issues in my writing:

I am not nor ever have been an expert on this topic. I agreed to tackle it because I thought I could share the learning gained from my interviews, reviews, and reflections that resulted in more than a hundred articles I wrote for a my well-known Internet “content farm.” Now I have decided to refocus my attention away from the radiance of wellness to the dark canyons of harm in New Mexico for these three reasons:

1. My city of Albuquerque has made international front-page news because of what most people consider the harmful way that Albuquerque police are treating citizens by killing them (36 recently). It has angered and brought shame on the state, partially because the new Albuquerque Chief of Police has supported the police officers’ killing of a homeless man who was camping in the foothills of the city’s iconic Sandia Mountain. Read this UK newspaper’s, this Canadian newspaper’s, and this Mexican newspaper’s accounts of the brutal killing of the homeless man.

2. My association with the online group Do No Harm ( whose only reason for existence is to try to make the world a kinder and gentler place and for all of us “to consider how our actions may affect the world we all share, to be compassionate in our dealings with all creatures, and not to thoughtlessly despoil our planet.”

3. I firmly believe that we can never be totally well as individuals, communities, or a global entity until we begin to make better choices and treat each other and the planet we call home with greater respect and compassion. And we can best to do that by spreading the message DO NO HARM.

I have come out: I plan to change my writing focus from “Wellness in New Mexico” to “Do No Harm in New Mexico.” Please follow me (click Subscribe) and join the cause by commenting and spreading those three little words.

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